NaNoWriMo participants, have you, hidden away in your writing den for over two weeks now, lost contact with your friends? Have you cursed out your muse yet? Sighed at the woeful word count because it’s not rising fast enough? Have you been tempted to hurl your computer because it seizes up? Mine likes to back itself up right in the middle of my flow. Doesn’t matter if it’s morning, noon, night, off it goes. Stop everything! The computer’s got to BACK UP!
When it happened the other day, my hopping mad display of utter frustration looked a lot like Cinderella’s stepsister in the movie Ever After. You know, the one who thrashes wildly at invisible bees. My rage dance was a cheaper alternative to chucking the laptop out the window, though, and I did feel better. After returning to a calm state, I simply told my husband I was figuring out the movements for my character. Works every time.
The poor guy’s getting used to my glassy-eyed stare that generally comes over me at dinner time, when my hands are occupied. That’s when the most brilliant story ideas come flitting into my mind. My muse, she’s fickle, though. If I don’t stop everything and write it down RIGHT THEN, sometimes she won’t bring that brilliant idea back around. They’re like one-time offerings. Now you see it, now you don’t.
I’ve resorted to keeping a little journal with me at all times. Usually, I just have to jot a few quick notes, but sometimes it’s whole dialogue which has to be written out in detail or I might never remember what my characters said, even if it means burning the sauce on the stove. I’ve developed a sort of shorthand for that; otherwise the note-taking lasts longer than dinner. It’s so cryptic I may use the shorthand as a new language in a future story.
Now that the month is over half-passed, when fickle muses and dogged computers want to thwart the word count, the most important thing is to reaffirm to ourselves the positive outcome we had in our mind’s eye on November 1st. That journal of mine has a sticky note in the front. On the sticky I have my first of November vision spelled out in clear, precise letters; no shorthand for this one. Visions shouldn’t require squinting and deciphering. It’s a clear way of reminding myself everyday of where the finishline is.
Athletes use this envisioning process each time they compete; it’s a way to focus the brain so that the distractions don’t take away from achieving the desired end result. Unfortunately I compete in a sport where I have to hope my vision aligns with the vision of a fourteen hundred pound horse who mostly pictures mints in his mind’s eye. When it’s really counted, the mental process has rarely failed me.
If your wheels are spinning about now, take a few minutes to create your vision in words. My computer seems to have the envisioning technique down pat… Time to go, the dastardly computer is determined to BACK UP RIGHT NOW.
Tricia Barr's novel, Wynde, won the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook. She was also part of Silence in the Library's successful all-female creator science fiction and fantasy anthology Athena's Daughters, which is available now. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.
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